The arid and sun-drenched Coachella Valley has been the home of the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians since ancient times. Like most tribes, they have faced struggle, opposition, and finally independence over the years. Since 1987, they have led the wave of economic development in Indian country.
The Recovery Park
In 1999 the Tribe first conceived the vision for a square mile business park in which every business leasing land would feedstock the next business, effectively creating a zero footprint industrial park. Little did they know how that vision would change and develop over time.
Because the Tribe remains connected to the earth and changing environment around them, this concept of eliminating waste and providing a purpose for everything lines up with their cultural values. Caring about their home, the Tribe was determined not to turn their valley into a dump site, therefore everything, even waste, needs to be given a new purpose.
Turning a Problem into Opportunity
The first effort towards the Tribe’s vision was faced with many challenges. Unsubstantiated environmental complaints in 2010 led to a loss of trust between the community and the Tribe which they worked fervently to rebuild. A grant from the EPA further enabled the Tribe to end relations with prior tenants of the Recovery Park and set in place innovative environmental standards.
These standards and the Tribe’s vision for a sustainable Recovery Park led to a partnership with management firm Scape Group to create an operational plan and manage the facility. This would ensure the site would focus on sustainable operations, and Mecca Remediation Facility (MRF) was launched. Scape Group brought the vital expertise for MRF to bring in new California Non-Hazardous material and incorporate it into processing the old material or “legacy soil” using heavy equipment and the latest remediation techniques.
The new, reinvigorated team started their bold action plan with remediation of the legacy soil. They were able to incorporate it into the processing of the new material and place the remediated soil on the Tribe’s land for future industrial growth. To date, 95,000 tons of legacy material have been remediated, and 15,000 tons of construction and demolition have been removed.
The Cabazon Band of Mission Indians and Mecca Remediation Facility worked together to not only drastically improve the current health of the site but also to increase environmental standards by which the site was operated. Through these efforts, the EPA Administrative Order to Consent (AOC) against the prior tenant was removed from the location.